Indian Horse

Indian Horse  by Richard Wagamese.

“Saul Indian Horse has hit bottom. His last binge almost killed him, and now he’s a reluctant resident in a treatment centre for alcoholics, surrounded by people he’s sure will never understand him. But Saul wants peace, and he grudgingly comes to see that he’ll find it only through telling his story. With him, readers embark on a journey back through the life he’s led as a northern Ojibway, with all its joys and sorrows.

With compassion and insight, author Richard Wagamese traces through his fictional characters the decline of a culture and a cultural way. For Saul, taken forcibly from the land and his family when he’s sent to residential school, salvation comes for a while through his incredible gifts as a hockey player. But in the harsh realities of 1960s Canada, he battles obdurate racism and the spirit-destroying effects of cultural alienation and displacement.” (Goodreads)

This was an excellent book, and a fairly quick read! I loved the very first page where there’s a description of the features of the First Nations people and how those features relate to the environment they live in.

They say that our cheekbones are cut from those granite ridges that rise above our homeland. They say that the deep brown of our eyes seeped out of the fecund earth that surrounds the lakes and marshes. The Old Ones say that our long straight hair comes from the waving grasses that thatch the edges of bays. Our feet and hands are broad and flat and strong, like the paws of the bear.” (p 1)

What an interesting concept! I love it!

There’s a residential school involved and all the pain that goes with that…even just reading the words can be difficult…can’t imagine actually experiencing that. Another excerpt about Saul’s arrival at the school:

They took me to St. Jerome’s Indian Residential School. I read once that there are holes in the universe that swallow all light, all bodies. St. Jerome’s took all the light from my world.” (p 42)

Wow! I can only imagine that that phrase “took all the light from my world” wholly and completely describes such a change in his life and lifestyle.

There’s also a focus on hockey, as Saul finds something that he loves to do and at which he is extremely gifted. I don’t watch hockey (I’d rather be reading) but the way Wagamese described Saul’s experience with discovering hockey and how it felt like he was flying, really brought some magic to the sport for me!

Just one more excerpt from the book that really resonated with me, and seemed to sum up for me the pain…which is unimaginable:

When your innocence is stripped from you, when your people are denigrated, when the family you came from is denounced and your tribal ways and rituals are pronounced backward, primitive, savage, you come to see yourself as less than human. That is hell on earth, that sense of unworthiness. That’s what they inflicted on us.”

*My progress for this Challenge is 14/13!!


Something a little different for Christmas this year…

Every year at one of our family Christmas gatherings, all the adults participate in some kind of fun gift exchange game. Traditionally it’s been random little gifts or ornaments or food items like jam. However, last year someone had the idea to try a book exchange instead of little gifts. Needless to say, I was very excited about this idea.

The guidelines that we came up with were simple:

-Bring a “used” book to exchange: one that you own and want to pass on, or one that you buy at a thrift store or somewhere; the idea was to keep it cheap

-A book for adults, can be any genre
-You don’t have to have read it before gifting it

-Bring it wrapped in any kind of paper/material that you want. Make it fun or interesting!

So we celebrated this past weekend and we did our book exchange! It was so great! There were a variety of books (mostly fiction, but some non-fiction) and a lot of them were ones that multiple people wanted to read! Everybody had lots of fun and seemed to be pleased with the book they ended up with.

Here’s a photo below of all the wrapped books. A variety of papers/materials were used, including toilet paper for one of them!

Also, pictured below are the books that returned to our house, that hubby and I got in the exchange. We’re both interested in reading the ones that we got! I received the book Hot Milk by Deborah Levy, and hubby received book entitled The Enemy by Lee Child.

All in all it was a great exchange! And it’s something I’d recommend to other families who are wanting to try something fun and different!

Have any of you read the books pictured below? Share your thoughts if you have! Thanks!

The Unquiet Dead

The Unquiet Dead  by Ausma Zehanat Khan.

This book takes place in Toronto, and the author, Khan, is a British-born Canadian.

“Despite their many differences, Detective Rachel Getty trusts her boss, Esa Khattak, implicitly. But she’s still uneasy at Khattak’s tight-lipped secrecy when he asks her to look into Christopher Drayton’s death. Drayton’s apparently accidental fall from a cliff doesn’t seem to warrant a police investigation, particularly not from Rachel and Khattak’s team, which handles minority-sensitive cases. But when she learns that Drayton may have been living under an assumed name, Rachel begins to understand why Khattak is tip-toeing around this case. It soon comes to light that Drayton may have been a war criminal with ties to the Srebrenica massacre of 1995.

If that’s true, any number of people might have had reason to help Drayton to his death, and a murder investigation could have far-reaching ripples throughout the community. But as Rachel and Khattak dig deeper into the life and death of Christopher Drayton, every question seems to lead only to more questions, with no easy answers.” (Goodreads).

I didn’t know a whole lot (if anything!!!) about the 1992-1995 war in Bosnia, the topic around which this book takes place. So it was interesting to get a brief glimpse into what this event was and the tragic things that occurred. This was an okay read for me; it’s the first in a series of so far four books. Interesting because of the Canadian connection and learning something new about a historical event.

*My progress for this Challenge is 13/13!!


It’s that time of year again!!! My chance to say thanks to those of you who read and follow my blog. And what better time to do that than in the weeks leading up to Christmas?

Thank you, thank you, thank you to those who stop by here and read what I write. I appreciate it immensely and am so thankful for each and every one who visits! I’ve really come to love writing about what I’m reading and bringing your attention to great books and interesting topics! I’m always on the lookout for new and interesting things to write about, and as always, if you have a book recommendation for me I’d love to hear about it!

As you’ll see in the pics below, there are a few gifts available as prizes. The first prize is a giftcard to Indigo/Chapters/Coles. The second, third and fourth are magnetic bookmarks. To enter into the draw please LIKE and SHARE this post on facebook AND comment there as to what book you’re currently reading.

So please, feel my thanks coming from me to you! Enter the draw and be eligible for a token of my thanks!!

Deadline will be Sunday November 26th at 11:00am, and winners will be notified privately on Sunday.

Indigo gift card!!!!!






Magnetic Bookmark!
Magnetic Bookmarks!

Lifting Hearts Off the Ground

Lifting Hearts Off the Ground: Declaring Indigenous Rights in Poetry by Lyla June Johnston & Joy De Vito.

The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples  is a powerful proclamation of the principles that should guide Indigenous-Settler relations around the world. Some call it a blueprint for reconciliation. Some say that, if taken seriously, it could help states and Settler societies repair significant historic injustices and reject present colonialism. Yet as a legal text, it’s not the easiest document to read or to imagine into action. In Lifting Hearts Off the Ground, two poets — one Indigenous, one Settler — come together to breathe life into the seemingly dry bones of the Declaration. And as we contemplate, wrestle with, and pray their words, we discover an invitation to renewed relationships with each other, the land, and Spirit.” (Goodreads) This was a very powerful book! Wonderfully written poetry from two different poets, each working from the same document as inspiration and as a guide to bring some ease to the understanding of the Declaration document. Always working towards recognizing the past and reconciling in the here and now…in the present.

Many of the poems struck a chord in me as I read them; only one will I share here:

The manifestations of many cultures

sit behind glass in museums.

Intricate beadwork woven with care

now labelled an artefact,

identified only by the

name of the Settler collector.

Fragments of ceremonies

separated from purpose

to act as teaching tools of the colonizer.

Viewers rush to the next exhibit,

learning their history.

Poem by Joy DeVito.

*My progress for this challenge is 12/13!!

More Children’s Books To Check Out

Here at Red 5’s Book Nook  I usually focus on books for adults, but sometimes I’ll find some children’s books that I feel the need to share with all of you. Recently I stumbled upon a few children’s books dealing with residential schools. I found these three books to be quite good. The illustrations were great without being too graphic for children in dealing with a serious subject. These would be a great place to start in introducing this topic to children and having a discussion about it. I read these with my children and there were a few questions that arose and some points of discussion. Feel free to check these out and introduce to your child as they are ready.

When We Were Alone  written by David A. Robertson, illustrated by Julie Fleet. “When a young girl helps tend to her grandmother’s garden, she begins to notice things that make her curious. Why does her grandmother have long braided hair and beautifully colored clothing? Why does she speak another language and spend so much time with her family? As she asks her grandmother about these things, she is told about life in a residential school a long time ago, where all of these things were taken away. When We Were Alone is a story about a difficult time in history and, ultimately, one of empowerment and strength.” (Goodreads) This is a lovely book and really great to see the intergenerational aspect of of a child and grandparent as the the grandparent shares part of their life story. Written well with simple language to express the story.

Stolen Words  written by Melanie Florence, illustrated by Gabrielle Grimard. “The story of the beautiful relationship between a little girl and her grandfather. When she asks her grandfather how to say something in his language, Cree, he admits that his language was stolen from him when he was a boy. The little girl then sets out to help her grandfather find his language again. This sensitive, beautifully illustrated picture book explores the intergenerational impact of Canada’s residential school system, which separated young Indigenous children from their families.” (Goodreads). This is an excellent book too, great illustrations, and a sweet story. Again, the intergenerational aspect is present as well, with grandparent and grandchild.

I Am Not A Number  written by Jenny Kay Dupuis and Kathy Kacer, illustrated by Gillian Newland. “When eight-year-old Irene is removed from her First Nations family to live in a residential school she is confused, frightened, and terribly homesick. She tries to remember who she is and where she came from, despite the efforts of the nuns who are in charge at the school and who tell her that she is not to use her own name but instead use the number they have assigned to her. When she goes home for summer holidays, Irene’s parents decide never to send her and her brothers away again. But where will they hide? And what will happen when her parents disobey the law? Based on the life of co-author Jenny Kay Dupuis’ grandmother, I Am Not a Number is a hugely necessary book that brings a terrible part of Canada’s history to light in a way that children can learn from and relate to.” (Goodreads). This picture book is longer and has more words than the previous two, so might be better for a slightly older child. A very powerful story and interesting illustrations.

The Firebird by Susanna Kearsley

The Firebird  by Susanna Kearsley.

Kearsley is a Canadian author, and the book takes place in England, Scotland, Belgium and Russia. So lots of travelling!

This was such a wonderful book, and so engrossing that I read it in 2 days! In hindsight I wish I hadn’t read it as quickly as I did, but it was just too good to put down!!! Here’s the summary from Goodreads: “Nicola Marter was born with a gift. When she touches an object, she sometimes glimpses those who have owned it before. When a woman arrives with a small wooden carving at the gallery Nicola works at, she can see the object’s history and knows that it was named after the Firebird—the mythical creature from an old Russian fable. Compelled to know more, Nicola follows a young girl named Anna into the past who leads her on a quest through the glittering backdrops of the Jacobites and Russian courts, unearthing a tale of love, courage, and redemption.”

So many things I loved about this book! I loved that it was set both in modern-day time and also in the time of Peter the Great in Russia. I loved that both women, Anna and Nicola, experienced some love. I loved reading about the ways in which both women hid themselves. Lots of great parallels there. They hid themselves for different reasons: Anna, to protect herself and her family members. Nicola, to protect herself from being considered a freak for having psychic abilities.

I would recommend this book to anyone who’s a fan of historical fiction and books by Kearsley! The Firebird is a sequel to Kearsley’s novel entitled The Winter Sea which I read a few years ago and loved just as much as this one.

*My progress for this Challenge is 11/13!!